Streaming devices make up a critical part of your entertainment center; streaming is basically impossible without them. Even the most feature-loaded smart TV requires that you get separate streaming devices because it doesn’t contain all the apps you’ll need. A streaming device connects your home theater or TV to the internet, letting you stream all sorts of content online. It lets you stream videos, music, sports, and movies through a streaming TV provider or application.
Streaming devices may come in different sizes and shapes, but they all work the same way. The installation process of most of them is pretty simple; you simply connect your TV with your device using an HDMI cable. Then, you connect your TV to your home Wi-Fi, modem, or router; you can now view the content you subscribe to through your TV set. Most streaming devices are used to browse a wide range of additional channels which can be added to access varying content.
Streaming devices aren’t only used for streaming video; they are also used to view online photos, listen to music through streaming services, and lots more. You need a streaming device if you want access to more available streaming services that smart TVs cannot offer. Some smart TVs offer one to two sites, but a streaming device provides access to many services at more affordable prices.
The Best Streaming Devices for 2022
A Quick Rundown
1. Best Overall Streamer: 4K-Resolution Roku Express Plus
This Roku streaming device is top on this list; it has the most streaming app options, a simple streaming interface, and excellent search.
2. First Runner-Up Best Overall Streamer: Chromecast featuring Google TV
Though not as good as the first streamer, Chromecast is the second-best streaming device you’ll find on the market.
3. Best With Simple Interface: 4K-Resolution Roku Streaming Stick
This is an update to Roku Stick Plus, featuring a similar simple interface and the impressive search function common with Roku devices.
4. Best Gaming: 2019 Nvidia Shield
The 2019 Nvidia Shield is one of the best streamers on the market; it features thousands of applications, providing access to practically everything.
5. Best Budget: 4K Lite Amazon Fire TV Stick
The simplicity of the app-based menu of the Lite streamer from Amazon gives it a spot on this list – that and its affordability.
6. Best Resolution: 2020 Roku Ultra
This streamer is one of the most expensive on the market, but that’s for a good reason. It has extra features with more accessories for convenience, including programmable shortcut keys on the remote and a headphone jack.
7. Best Performance: 2021 4K Apple TV
This is a new streamer model for Apple fans; it is great, and its performance is almost too good to be true. Nevertheless, if you have the previous model already, this upgrade may not be worth it; the best thing about it is the refurbished Siri Remote.
8. Best Soundbar Streamer: 4K Roku Streambar
This 4K stream bar from Roku features the simple Roku interface we’ve all come to appreciate. It features 4K HDR with improved sound for all things related to TV, especially dialogue.
9. Best Voice Control: Fire TV Cube
This 2nd Gen Amazon Fire TV Cube features a version of the virtual assistant offering more entertainment device gimmicks than most. It’s a new streamer model with a faster processor through which commands happen four times faster.
10. Best Compelling: 4K Tivo Stream
This streamer has tons of apps, external storage that supports your personal media, and all at an affordable price. There’s a lot about this streaming device that you’ve just got to love and appreciate.
The Best Streamers to Buy in 2022
Best for Streaming
1. Chromecast Featuring Google TV
After Google’s many attempts at successfully creating TV devices, it finally got a breakthrough in 2013 with its first Chromecast. This device helped usher in an era of streaming televisions, although it still required your tablet, computer, or smartphone for apps and videos. Other models have come after this but with no success – until the Chromecast with Google TV debuted in 2020. The Chromecast is the search engine’s first success and, impressively, one of the market’s best streamers .
It has an incredibly functional remote, a large app selection that includes Peacock and HBO Max, and uses the Google assistant excellently. The downsides to the Chromecast include lagging when using voice or switching apps, and the Google Assistant is not very effective at playing back content. Nevertheless, the best part of this upgraded streaming device is its redesigned Android TV interface, now Google TV. Google TV has a unified homepage that gathers content from different apps to watch and integrates Google Assistant masterfully.
2. 4K-Resolution Roku Express Plus
Roku produces some of the best streaming systems on the market with the most streaming applications and a simple interface. The streamer has a content-focused platform that doesn’t favor one streaming service provider, like Apple, over another. Roku Express Plus is one of the most affordable streamer options with 4K HDR. It offers less expensive ways to connect your Apple device to your TV; it sets a higher bar for value and features.
The streamer has super simple app-based menus, is very fast and responsive, and supports Ethernet with a third-party adapter. The downsides to this streamer are that it has no Dolby Vision support, and Roku’s voice assistant is still weaker than most. The front of the Roku Express Plus is glossy and nondescript with one indicator light. It has a bottom with an adhesive strip that lets you attach the miniature box to the bottom or back of your TV.
You can hide this box pretty much anywhere around your TV, and it’ll still stream without a break in transmission. That is because the 4-K resolution Roku Express Plus doesn’t require a direct line of sight to control.
Best for Gaming
1. 2019 Nvidia Shield
The Nvidia Shield 2019 edition is one of the most expensive ones on the market - it was this way even when it didn’t include a game control. At just a storage space of 8GB and 2GB RAM, this streamer was pretty expensive, not to mention now that it is 16GB storage and 3GB RAM. However, that price is small considering this video-streaming player possesses the Shield. If you don’t know what the “Shield” is, we’ll explain in simple words: it is a jack-of-all-trades video streamer.
It features 4K-resolution streaming and HDR, a robust collection of games at Android and console levels, and Steam Link. It also has built-in Google Assistant with smart home control, HDHomeRun Integration, NAS access, and more – like we said: all in one. This streaming device combines powerful gaming features with streaming features; expensive but worth the price for those who understand its value. Little downsides to this product, aside from its cost, are that it has little difficulty understanding voice commands, and it launches Netflix slowly.
The Nvidia Shield has a PC-compatible GeForce Now game-streaming platform, GameStream, and an Android games store. We know it is expensive, but this device is one of the cheapest means of getting PC games from Steam to your screen.
2. Amazon Fire TV Cube
This second-generation Fire TV Cube is rich in that the virtual assistant offers many entertainment tricks, including tuning cable channels and switching HDMI inputs. This new model comes with a faster processor that executes commands four times faster than the old models. This cuts down the number of times voice commands are performed, helping users stick with Alexa commands rather than looking for a missing remote. This mode bv l is the biggest improvement from the previous one, closing the wide gap in the platform’s available content library.
The downsides to this product are its comparatively high price and how you cannot edit the home screen. Still, this streaming device is one of the best out there, with sixty-three Netflix shows to watch and recently-updated support for external webcams. Thanks to this upgrade, you can now make and receive video calls right in the center of your living room. The product is a teeny little box, an Echo speaker with corners featuring buttons for volume and a light-up bar to signify Alexa or issues.
Best for Budget Streamers
1. 4K Tivo Stream
Tivo Stream is an affordable streamer with tons of applications that lets you store your media on its external storage. This is a great streamer, even for one as cheap as this, and it deserved a spot on this list. Unlike most streaming devices, it has HBO and Peacock, live TV integration, and Google Assistant ready to obey voice commands. The little downside to this greatness is that its interface for the Stream app that aggregates content isn’t so great.
Also, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, and Fubo TV aren’t as specially treated as Sling in the Guide section. Until the Chromecast with Google TV came along, the 4K Tivo Stream sat on the throne; now, it sits in Google’s new creation’s long shadow.
Best Streamer for Apple Lovers
1. 4K Lite Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick Lite is the first ultra-budget streaming device with a voice remote that tails Roku dangerously. Roku has been the biggest name in streaming hardware for the longest time, with different streamers on the market, TVs, and soundbars. But, Amazon has been gunning for Roku since its first Fire TV Lite arrived; the Amazon Fire TV Lite is the company’s cheapest streaming device. Its biggest advantage over Roku’s Fire TV Lite is the Alexa voice assistant.
We love this streamer because it is incredibly cheap, even with the Alexa voice remote and a wide range of streaming apps like HBO Max. The downside to this streamer is that voice commands don’t work with all applications, and its menus are more complex than Roku’s. The Fire TV Stick Lite has Peacock, built-in access to Alexa, which comes in handy when you’re searching for launch apps and shows. It has thousands of available applications with dozens of supported streaming services.
2. 2021 4K Apple TV
This streamer offers many features and an improved, faster processor than the model before it; it also features a revamped Siri remote. The 2021 4K Apple TV model comes with features upgrades that Apple fans have waited for. It has a Siri Remote that replaces the old trackpad with a clickpad, as Apple calls it. The clickpad is basically a circular controller that combines directional buttons you can click with a touchpad.
Many Apple fans have always had a problem with the brand’s touchpad remote; Apple solves this problem in this streamer. It doesn’t entirely remove the touchpad functionality to enable quick scrolling through playing certain Apple Arcade games. But, if you don’t appreciate the touchpad on the clickpad, you can always disable the feature in the Settings menu under the Remote and Devices section. Furthermore, the new remote features three new buttons for mute, back, and controlling TV power – which is long overdue.
Best for Convenient Streaming
1. 4K Roku Ultra
The Roku Ultra 4K is the brand’s most expensive streaming device; it is twice the price of the top streamers on this list. But, that high cost comes with extra features that offer more conveniences, enough to make you want to upgrade. That includes a headphone jack and a remote finder for when/if the clicker gets lost in your couch cushions. It also has programmable short keys on the remote, delivers Dolby Vision video, improved Wi-Fi, faster responses, and a wired Ethernet port.
Roku Ultra is the flagship in Roku’s extensive stick and player lines, with nifty tricks for better functionality. The downsides to this streamer are that it is expensive, and its voice assistant is weaker than Google and Amazon streamers. The streamer’s main features include access to a streaming platform in 4K HDR, a TV-controlling voice remote, and AirPlay support.